October 12, 2012 7 Comments
Sometimes it seems that we are living in the shadows of living legends. A couple of them have passed this week, and I would like to remind you of what these men did. Two men, both in there 90s crossed over this week, and they are both memorable. The first is a British veteran of World War II, from the NY Times.
Eric Lomax, River Kwai Prisoner Who Forgave, Dies at 93Micool Brooke/Associated Press
Eric Lomax, left, in 1998 with Nagase Takashi, his chief wartime tormentor. The two met again at the River Kwai, Thailand.
Published: October 9, 2012
His death was confirmed by his publisher, Vintage Books.
Mr. Lomax, who was born in Scotland, was 19 when he joined the Royal Corps of Signals in 1939. He was one of thousands of British soldiers who surrendered to the Japanese in Singapore in 1942. Many were relocated to Thailand and forced to build the Burma Railway, also known as the Death Railway.
The building of the railroad and the brutality involved was portrayed in “The Bridge on the River Kwai,” the 1957 film directed by David Lean.
Mr. Lomax was repeatedly beaten and interrogated after his captors found a radio receiver he had made from spare parts. Multiple bones were broken and water was poured into his nose and mouth. One of his constant torturers stood out: Nagase Takashi, an interpreter.
“At the end of the war, I would have been happy to murder him,” Mr. Lomax told The New York Times in 1995, shortly after the “The Railway Man” was published and became a best seller.
In the book, Mr. Lomax described having fantasies about meeting Mr. Nagase one day and how he had spent much of the 1980s looking for information about him. He learned that after the war Mr. Nagase had become an interpreter for the Allies and helped locate thousands of graves and mass burial sites along the Burma Railway.
Continue reading Eric Lomax, River Kwai Prisoner Who Forgave, Dies at 93
The second one is an American, a Command Sergeant Major, a veteran of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. He was also the co-author with LTG Hal Moore of the book We were Soldiers once …and Young. From Fox News
Basil Plumley, retired veteran whose book became ‘We Were Soldiers’ movie, dies in GeorgiaPublished October 10, 2012 Associated PressCOLUMBUS, Ga. – Basil L. Plumley, a renowned career soldier whose exploits as an Army infantryman were portrayed in a book and the movie “We Were Soldiers,” has died at 92 — an age his friends are amazed that he lived to see. Plumley fought in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam and was awarded a medal for making five parachute jumps into combat. The retired command sergeant major died Wednesday. Friends said Plumley, who died in hospice care in west Georgia, never told war stories and was known to hang up on people who called to interview him. Still, he was near-legendary in the Army and gained more widespread fame through a 1992 Vietnam War book that was the basis for the 2002 movie starring Mel Gibson. Actor Sam Elliott played Plumley in the film. Plumley didn’t need a Hollywood portrayal to be revered among soldiers, said Greg Camp, a retired Army colonel and former chief of staff at neighboring Fort Benning who befriended Plumley in his later years. “He’s iconic in military circles,” Camp said. “Among people who have been in the military, he’s beyond what a movie star would be. … His legend permeates three generations of soldiers.” Debbie Kimble, Plumley’s daughter, said her father died from cancer after spending about nine days at Columbus Hospice. Although the illness seemed to strike suddenly, Kimble said Plumley’s health had been declining since his wife of 63 years, Deurice Plumley, died last May on Memorial Day. A native of Shady Spring, W.Va., Plumley enlisted in the Army in 1942 and ended up serving 32 years in uniform. In World War II, he fought in the Allied invasion of Italy at Salerno and the D-Day invasion at Normandy. He later fought with the 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment in Korea. In Vietnam, Plumley served as sergeant major — the highest enlisted rank — in the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment.
So two more of the legends pass on after making their contributions to us. Take a moment and remember what these men went through for your liberty.
- Eric Lomax: A tortured war hero, his Japanese tormentor, and the redeeming power of forgiveness (thisismoney.co.uk)
- Eric Lomax obituary (guardian.co.uk)